published Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

Old parts; new history: Dade seeks antique building material to finish Union School

Frank Huneke of Olde Towne House Construction works on the Union School.
Frank Huneke of Olde Towne House Construction works on the Union School.
Photo by Jay Bailey.

HOW TO HELP

To donate materials to restore Union School, call Wilma Hulgan at the Dade County Schools' main office at 706-657-4361.

If you're trying to get rid of weathered barn siding, rusty tin roofing or vintage beadboard wall paneling, Wilma Hulgan would like to hear from you.

Hulgan hopes to find those items -- along with an antique pot-bellied stove -- for the Union School, a one-room schoolhouse that's being rebuilt near the Dade County High School in Trenton, Ga.

"Maybe somebody's got a little stack of barn wood in their shed," said Hulgan, director of school nutrition for Dade County Schools.

A shortage of antique building materials is the only thing holding up the restoration of the little school that once stood on Cedar Lane. It was built in the 1800s alongside a matching building that housed a Church of Christ. Locals called them the Union Church and the Union School, Hulgan said.

The church is gone, and the old school was being used as a storage shed, she said. Then four or five years ago, local resident "Bozo" Payne hauled Union School to its current location between the high school and the school district main office.

The plan was to restore the school and fill it with period furnishings so it could be used for such things as teaching occasional history classes.

Then the tornadoes of April 2011 hit, and one knocked the old building off kilter. One thing that kept the structure together was the strapping that Payne had wrapped around it during relocation, Hulgan said.

"Had it not been for the straps, it would be all over the county," she said.

Grant money earmarked for construction work is paying Fred Huneke, the owner of Olde Towne House Construction on Lookout Mountain, to rebuild the school.

But the grant doesn't cover materials, Hulgan said. So the school district is seeking donations of cash and antique building supplies.

Huneke salvaged all he could of the old school.

But much of the wood was rotten. For example, he couldn't keep any of the beadboard paneling.

"It was too far gone to save it," Huneke said.

Huneke said if he had all the materials he needs, he probably could finish the project in six weeks.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers Catoosa and Walker counties for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California. Stories he's covered include crime in blighted parts of metro Detroit and Reno, Nev.; environmental activists tree-sitting in California's Sierra Nevada foothills; attempts by the Michigan Militia to take over a township¹s government in northern Michigan. A native of Michigan, ...

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